Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach


I have a love-hate relationship with pasta salads. So often they are just awful...think most Sunday Brunch buffets...cold, flavorless ingredients with gummy pasta and bad dressings. But, when made with fresh items and delicious, flavorful vinaigrettes they can be amazing.


This recipe is a perfect example. Sweet sun-dried tomatoes, tender broccoli, baby spinach and crisp red bell pepper tossed together with a tangy freshly made vinaigrette is wonderful on a spring evening. Add some cold poached chicken and dinner is served. I used a gluten-free pasta today, but it works with any type you like. Just do not overcook the noodles. You always want al-dente (to the tooth) in any pasta dish you make. Enjoy!


Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach
(serves 6)

1 lb tubular pasta (any shape you like)
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and sliced (reserve oil)
3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, divided

Bring a large pot of salted water to a high boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions ensuring you do not over cook noodles. Using a strainer, remove pasta and add to a colander. Rinse pasta in cold water, drain and add to a large bowl. Set aside.

Add broccoli to the still boiling pasta water and cook until crisp-tender. (4-5 minutes). Pour into the colander, rinse with cold water, drain and stir into the pasta bowl. Add sun-dried tomatoes, onions, bell pepper and garlic.
Toss with 3/4 of the vinaigrette. Chill for 1 hour.

Remove from the fridge, stir in spinach, 1/4 cup pine nuts and remaining vinaigrette. Taste and add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with a drizzle of the reserved oil from the sundried tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts sprinkled over the salad.

Vinaigrette
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place 2/3 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, pepper flakes, and a large pinch each salt and pepper in a lidded mason jar. Shake until combined.




Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Pasta SaladsDo you have a favorite pasta salad recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 




best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mary Lane's Pasta With Pesto Tomato Sauce


My friend Mary Lane is the President for one of the non-profit boards of which I am a member. She recently hosted a board meeting at her home and served this delicious pasta for lunch. Regular readers know I am addicted to pesto and am always looking for new recipes so I begged her to share. This one is a keeper. Easy, fast, delicious and chock full of greens, it is perfect tossed with hot pasta and equally delicious topping steamed vegetables, potatoes or slathered on toasted french or sourdough bread. Yum!



This pesto recipe combines tomatoes, fresh spinach and Italian parsley with the more typical basil, garlic, walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Unlike traditional pestos, this one contains no oil, so it has a very light & fresh taste. I used a gluten-free pasta to ensure my "no pasta, I am avoiding gluten" friends could partake.  We all loved the final result as much as I did at Mary Lane's.


I make 2 tweaks to the original recipe. I seasoned with salt & pepper and added a pinch of hot red pepper flakes. I will experiment with using fresh tomatoes in season and add some sauteed vegetables like red bell peppers, summer squash and/or roasted asparagus. But, trust me, the basic recipe is delicious as is. Enjoy!

Mary Lane's Pasta With Pesto Tomato Sauce 
(6 servings)

1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes (or fresh in season)
2 cups spinach leaves 
1 cup Italian parsley
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for passing at the table
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons walnuts (chopped), toasted
1 pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 lb tubular pasta (like fusilli, penne or rigatoni) cooked according to package directions

Combine the tomatoes, spinach, parsley, basil, garlic 1/2 cup cheese, lemon juice 1/4 cup walnuts and red pepper flakes in a food processor or powerful blender. Pulse until you have a sauce with a bit of texture.

Pour into a large saute pan and simmer over medium-high heat, frequently stirring, until the sauce is hot. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir to combine. Serve immediately topped with additional cheese and chopped walnuts.

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Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Something Cheesy. Do you have a favorite cheese recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

The Lemon Bowl: Spelt Salad with Apples, Cheddar and Scallions
Jeanette's Healthy Living: 
Loaded Mashed Cauliflower Casserole with Bacon and Caramelized Onions {Low Carb}
Creative Culinary: 
Cilantro Serrano Rice
Virtually Homemade: 
Stove Top Mac and Cheese with Apples and Bacon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Mary Lane's Pasta With Pesto Tomato Sauce
Red or Green: 
Cheesy Polenta with Spicy Leeks
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Cheesy Beer Bread with Quinoa, Millet and Jalapeño Peppers
Homemade Delish: 
Cheesy Zucchini and Summer Squash
Daisy at Home: 
Bell Pepper Pizza
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Indian Cottage Cheese & Bell Pepper Quick Stir-Fry
Weelicious: 
Cheesy Turkey Meatballs
Swing Eats: 
Frico: Parmesan Cheese Crackers (gluten-free)
The Mom 100: 
Leek, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quiche
FN Dish: 
6 Ways to One-Up Side Dish Favorites with Cheese


best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marinated Peas & Peppers Salad


I love this salad and find it is perfect for a spring or summer meal. Easy, breezy to make, the prep consists of combining spring peas and green onions in a bowl and allowing to chill, then roasting sweet peppers and white onion until caramelized. Dress with a light, fresh vinaigrette and you have the most delicious salad you can imagine.



I serve this salad as is with roasted fish or chicken and lots of crusty bread to soak up the vinaigrette and juice from the roasted peppers. So, so good. You could toss in fresh shrimp or tuna with the peas to make a main course. Either way, you will probably make this all season long...I do! Enjoy...


Marinated Peas & Peppers Salad
(Serves 8)

4 cups fresh spring peas (or 2 packages frozen)
2 green onions, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1 lb mini sweet peppers
1/2 white onion, sliced
sea salt
black pepper

Wash and chill peas and green onion in the refrigerator. (if using frozen peas, defrost by placing in a colander and pouring boiling water over them.) Chill.

Place 2/3 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, pepper flakes, and a large pinch each salt and pepper in a lidded mason jar. Shake until combined. Pour 1/2 of the viniagrette over peas and onion mixture and return to refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour. (Can marinate for up to 6 hours if desired)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add peppers and white onion to the pan and drizzle with oil. Generously season with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the peppers and onion are beginning to brown and caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside. Allow to cool to warm. Stir in the roasted onions to the pea mixture.

When ready to serve, mound pea mixture in the center of a large platter. Surround the peas with the peppers. Serve, passing the remaining vinaigrette at the table.

Click Here For Printer Friendly Recipe

Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Spring Peas. Do you have a favorite pea recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Creative Culinary: Peas with Bacon and Crispy Leeks
Daisy at Home: 
No-Cook Spring Succotash
Weelicious: 
Summer Pea Salad
Virtually Homemade: 
Green Pea Hummus
Homemade Delish: 
Peas That Please
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Marinated Peas & Peppers Salad
Red or Green: 
English Pea Mash on Garlic Rubbed Bruschetta
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Cauliflower and Peas Stir-Fry
Taste with the Eyes: 
Pasta with Peas, Bacon, Mint, and Ricotta
The Mom 100: 
Spring Ramp and Pea Risotto
Dishin & Dishes: 
Sesame Sugar Snap Peas
FN Dish: 
The Freshest Ways to Pass the Peas, Please

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Salad Greens with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette


My favorite part of a salad is the vinaigrette. Don't get me wrong. I love greens and vegetables and try to eat at least one huge salad per day. But a well-made vinaigrette pulls everything together and makes a healthy choice delicious.

I am always surprised  (and a little bit sad) when I see the huge selection of bottled salad dressings on market shelves. People pay so much money for an item that is chock full of preservatives, lower quality ingredients and often loads of sodium and sugar (read the labels...you will be shocked.) Homemade vinaigrettes are fast, easy, delicious and much better for you because you control the ingredients. Keeping a well-stocked pantry of excellent oils like olive, sesame and walnut, along with various vinegars, seasonings and mustards ensure you are always just a few minutes away from a perfect & healthy vinaigrette.

Today I am sharing a recipe for a vinaigrette featuring sun-dried tomatoes. I use it to dress a simple green salad or one with greens, roasted vegetables, and grilled chicken. Double or triple the recipe...it keeps for two weeks in the refrigerator.


Salad Greens with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon capers
pinch dried red pepper flakes
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper 
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cups spinach leaves, washed & dried
2 cups baby kale leaves, washed & dried
1 cup romaine leaves, washed & dried 
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 white onion, sliced
sea salt
black pepper

In the bowl of a food processor add sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, capers, red pepper flakes, sea salt, pepper and water. Pulse until smooth. With machine running, slowly add oil. Process until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Set aside.

Add greens, red pepper and onion to a large salad bowl. Toss. Add 3 tablespoons vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Add additional vinaigrette if desired. Do not over dress the greens.

Other vinaigrettes and dressings you may enjoy:



Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Salad GreensDo you have a favorite salad recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Creative Culinary: Mixed Greens with Smoked Mozzarella and a Warm Roasted Garlic Dressing
The Cultural Dish: 
Three Quick and Easy Salad Recipes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Salad Greens with Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Red or Green: 
Salad Greens with Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
The Heritage Cook: 
Chopped Steakhouse-Style Salad (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: 
Southwestern Salad
Taste with the Eyes: 
Teacher Appreciation Farmers Market Salad
Swing Eats: 
Kale Salad with Lemon, Pecorino Romano, and Toasted Walnuts
Virtually Homemade: 
Spinach and Bacon Salad
Domesticate Me: 
8 Gorgeous Green Salads for Spring
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Arugula and Grapefruit Salad
Dishin & Dishes: 
Tangle Thai Rainbow Salad
Homemade Delish: 
Grilled Pineapple Spinach Salad
FN Dish: 
Why Side Salads Are the Best Salads 

best,
diane

I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.